Gov. Kathy Hochul cautioned that New York is bracing for the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, declaring that the state will be ready for it when it does.
Hochul said during a COVID-19 briefing this week that the new variant is being closely monitored by state health officials, including the state testing center at Wadsworth Labs in Albany, and while Omicron is a concern, New York now has more tools to combat it than at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020.
“We’re fully monitoring it - but the difference this time, unlike last year, is we’re not defenseless," Hochul said. "We know exactly what has to happen. Anyone over the age of 5 can get vaccinated, and anyone 18 and up can get their booster shots.
“We’ve always encouraged mask use, and we’re encouraging businesses to do the same among patrons and employees,” she continued. “It’s just simple measures … Mask wearing, hand sanitation, limit activities, but the difference this year and last is the vaccine."
Hochul cautioned that some parts of the state are facing potential hospital bed shortages, healthcare staffing shortages, and that she signed an Executive Order that will restrict non-essential surgeries at between 32 and 36 hospitals, largely in upstate New York beginning next month.
“If this new variant takes the state by storm and vaccinations and boosters don’t fight it as well as we hope, we’re going to be seeing more hospitals getting into trouble,” the governor said. “We want to make sure this doesn't spread like wildfire with the variant coming to our shores if it's not here already.
“This new variant, we fully expect it to arrive after we got the notification it was in Ontario, which is literally across the bridge from where I live. I can see Canada from my house and Ontario is right there,” Hochul said. ”Now it just has to cross a bridge. We want to welcome our neighbors, but we don't want them bringing unwanted guests with them.”
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